Chris Maslanka stood next to the road, looked at a small screen, and adjusted some controls. His mother appeared on the screen, followed by his younger brothers, Mark and Jeffrey. Then his two sisters, Carolyn and Rebecca, biked into view as they passed a monument at Gettysburg National Military Park.
“They’ll be here soon,” he said as he put away the drone he is using to track and capture video footage of his family this week on the Anchor House Ride for Runaways. Then he went back to the support crew truck and handed out water and other items to cyclists who just completed day three of the seven-day journey.
His mom, Patti Maslanka, is participating in her fifth consecutive Ride for Runaways this week. Siblings Mark, Jeffrey, and Rebecca are also ride veterans. Chris and Carolyn are participating in their first ride. Carolyn, 18, is the youngest cyclist biking in the Ride for Runaways.
The family has raised more than $8,800 for Anchor House so far this week. Cyclists collect donations from friends, family members and colleagues to support the Trenton-based shelter for runaway, abused and neglected teens.
Patti, a veterinarian and the owner of the HomeCare Veterinary Clinic in Rocky Hill, first heard about the Ride for Runaways at St. Paul’s Church several years ago. The family cycled for fun, but no one was a serious cyclists. In 2014, Patti decided to do the ride with her son Mark, who had just graduated from Montgomery High School. She wanted to spend time with him before he went to college, and also wanted him to give back to kids who didn’t have the opportunities he and his siblings had. Jeffrey joined the ride the following year. Rebecca started riding last year. Carolyn is a new rider, and Chris is a new support crew member.
“She tried to coax everyone into doing the ride with her that first year,” said Chris. “Mark agreed reluctantly to do it with her that first year. He has done it willingly ever since then.”
Chris finally decided to join the family as a support crew member. “They convinced me by telling me I wouldn’t have to do any physical exercise,” he joked. “I said okay when I found out there was a position like that for me.”
Jeffrey wasn’t so sure how the week would work out with so many family members on the ride. “I thought it was going to be a little bit of a mess, honestly,” he said.
“What he means is, he thought I was going to be a mess,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t train at all.”
But Carolyn has been keeping up with her brothers and sisters just fine. At 18, cyclists can get by with a lot less training than the older cyclists on the ride.
Patti loves having her kids with her for the week and spending time together as a family. It makes the miles on the bike pass by quickly.
“They make me laugh all day long,” she said.
Asked how their mom is doing keeping up with them while cycling, Rebecca gave a thumbs up. “She’s been kicking our butts today,” she said.
The cyclists pedaled 57 miles across the Mason-Dixon line on Tuesday, biking from Frederick, Md. to Gettysburg, Pa. as the temperatures soared into the mid 90s. On Wednesday, the cyclists will pedal 68 miles around Gettysburg as they pass the halfway mark on their 500-mile journey.
For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation to the Ride for Runaways, visit anchorhouseride.org. You can make a general donation or select a cyclist to sponsor. Planet Princeton is the media sponsor for the 40th annual ride.